The Department of Labor has announced a proposal to revise regulations around workplace inspections. The proposed rule clarifies that employees may authorize an employee as a representative, or they may authorize a non-employee third party if the compliance officer determines the third party is reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.
The proposed changes also clarify that third-party representatives are not limited to industrial hygienists or safety engineers, two examples included in the existing regulation. Third-party representatives may be reasonably necessary because they have skills, knowledge or experience that may help inform the compliance officer's inspection. This information may include experience with particular hazards, workplace conditions or language skills that can improve communications between Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) representatives and workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives the employer and employees the right to have a representative authorized by them accompany OSHA officials during a workplace inspection to aid the investigation.
The proposed revisions do not change existing regulations that give OSHA compliance officers the authority to determine if an individual is authorized by employees and to prevent someone from participating in the walkaround inspection if their conduct interferes with a fair and orderly inspection, or to limit participation to protect employer trade secrets.